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Good late season finish, tough road ahead for XC

Simon Düster pushes uphill late in the race at North Linn Oct. 12. (photos by Joe Wilkinson)

TROY MILLS– After a fourth (girls) and eighth (boys) place finish at North Linn, Solon’s boys and girls cross country squads head into conference this week, and then tough state qualifying meets as their seasons hit the home stretch.
The Spartans host the Oct. 24 state qualifier, but are among four ranked 3A schools– and a late upstart– at a meet where only three teams qualify for the Nov. 2 state meet.
For the girls, that includes top-ranked Assumption of Davenport, as well as No. 6 Mount Vernon and No. 7 Xavier of Cedar Rapids. The Lady Spartans are ranked 11th this week by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. They began the season outside the top 15, and have been rated as high as sixth, in the last couple weeks. And what about Mount Pleasant? (See below!)
Solon’s boys have seen solid results through the season, but have not cracked the IATC top-15. They also see three ranked teams (Xavier, fifth; Center Point-Urbana, eighth; and Mount Vernon-Lisbon, 12th ) heading into that state qualifier. And in between is the Oct. 17 WaMaC conference meet.

North Linn

In a non-typical North Linn Invitational (meaning no frost, snow or winter-cold wind!) Solon’s girls notched fourth place in the 27-team, 136-runner meet. Junior Alex Smith fought through a thick-as-molasses start to finish at 15:16 (seventh) in the slightly shorter than 4 kilometer course, tops for the Lady Spartans. Also medaling was junior Katie Folkerts (15:35, 14th). Senior Tayvia Hansen pushed through for 29th overall (15:53), with junior (16 flat, 33rd) Molly Walkner right behind. Sophomore Trish Coberly (16:12) was 44th in the larger-than-the-state meet field.
Coming out of nowhere, though, was meet winner Mount Pleasant. Unranked in Class 3A, the Panthers outran the field, winning with 101 points in a razor-close five-team finish. Just behind (104 points) was 2A power Cascade, then 3A Williamsburg (106). Solon and Vinton Shellsburg (both 3A) tied, with 127 points. However, again Solon won the tiebreaker, with the better sixth runner. This time, it was Mileah Mesch, whose 51st place finish (16:22) pushed V-S down a notch. Just to be sure, Solon’s Carlyn Haas was right behind, also in 16:22.
Pushing them from the junior varsity (JV) squad, junior Sydney Gerdts was the seventh runner across (15:53), with senior Emmy Moore (16:12) 22nd.
Now, it’s strategy and guts, as the girls shoot for a top spot in the WaMaC Conference, and a return trip to State. Hansen has been there before. “(By now,) I know the hills and have a good idea of the courses at each meet,” reflected Hansen. “I also know that running is a mind game. Just because she passed me once, doesn’t mean I can’t pass her back. I know how to run the race.”
But can the team pick up on that? “I think the whole team pushed really hard (at North Linn). We are all staying pretty close (to each other). We need to pack it up; run together; knowing we are working harder than the other teams,” said Hansen, looking ahead.

For the boys

Solon claimed eighth place in the 23-team meet; behind a stellar performance again by top-ranked 2A Monticello. Senior Patrick McGill (14th, 17:28) was Solon’s top runner. Sophomore Simon Düster (42nd, 18:19) and senior Taylor Walkner (18:22, 44th) went two-three for the Spartans.
Heading to Conference at Center Point-Urbana, and the state qualifier next week, the boys need to work on moving the pack up the standings. At North Linn, Josh Prybil was 57th (18:39) in the team standings for Solon, followed by Keegan Hess (77th, 19:00) and Joe Regan (83rd, 19:14). On the JV side, Nik Rehnke (18:56) was fourth overall, with help from Keegan Paisley (eighth, 19:13) and Adam Smith (15th, 19:18) among the 144 junior varsity runners.

IMS

Earlier in the week at the IMS Invitational, the boys rode a great effort by Patrick McGill to a fifth-place team finish. McGill’s 17:30 over 5 kilometers of rolling golf course hills in Wellman was good for third, just seven seconds behind individual champion Derek Dinderman of Vinton-Shellsburg.
Ty Appleget was 15th across the white stripe, at 18:10. David Coberly was 21st (18:23), followed by a Solon pack of Simon Düster (29th, 18:41), Keegan Hess (30th, 18:46) and Josh Prybil (31st, 18:48) in the field of nearly 80 runners.
Vinton-Shellsburg ran away with the boys’ team title, its 63 points undercutting Mid-Prairie’s 71. Williamsburg was third with 79, followed by Clear Creek Amana (83), Solon (100), Wapello (137) and then Fairfield (257), Washington (271), HLV (277), BGM (279), Danville-New London (291) and IMS (294).
Williamsburg won the girls’ team race with 49 points. Solon’s 56 team score created a regulation tie with Vinton-Shellsburg for second. The nod went to the Spartans, though, when No. 6 varsity runner Trish Coberly (17:25) finished two places (24th, 17:25) and six seconds ahead of V-S’s No. 6 girl. Two weeks prior, her brother David was the No. 6 tiebreaker, to boost Solon’s boys up a place at Anamosa.
In the individual race, Vinton-Shellsburg’s Lily Horst (15:36) and Solon’s Alex Smith (16:12) went one-two. Backing Smith was Katie Folkerts (seventh, 16:39), Tayvia Hansen (10th, 16:47), Molly Walkner (17th, 17:00) and Carlyn Haas (20th, 17:18).
Dropping off after the Solon-Vinton-Shellsburg finish were Mid-Prairie (156), Fairfield (158), Wapello (190), Lone Tree (214), North Mahaska (222), Washington (237), Danville-New London (270), English Valleys (287), West Liberty (329), Iowa Mennonite (334) and BGM (342).